Monthly Archives: December 2012

More closet space

empty closetFor the second year in a row, I am spending New Year’s Eve at home. By choice. And, as strange as it may seem to the partying public, it feels wonderful.

You may bring your eyebrows back down now.

Every year, on this day, I sit and reflect on the year that has been, trying to dredge up every memory I have of everything that has transpired over the last 12 months. And every year, on this day (and to be honest, in the weeks leading up to this day), I thank all the gods that the year has come to an end. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked them more profusely than I am thanking them right now.

This year has been nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster. I came to some unsettling realizations about the job that I otherwise love, and then decided that I love it enough to hold my breath and plow through. I was finally able to reconcile with the two friends I lost last year, when reconciliation has never been a significant occurrence in my life. I was faced with one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a very long time, and only at the very last minute, thanks to the fear of entering the new year with it hanging over my head, did I finally screw up the courage to make it. I finally realized that what I wanted now, at the age of 28, was completely different from what I wanted at the age of, say, 25.

Sure, I will enter the new year completely alone now, going to sleep in a big empty bed, coming home to a quiet, empty house (the cats and my brother don’t count), but with that solitude comes the knowledge that I now have the freedom and the clarity of mind to take control of my life again and slowly regain everything that I have lost. And that gives me a sense of relief greater than anything else has in a long time.

It also gives me more closet space, which I am more pleased about than I care to admit.

So au revoir, 2012. Here’s to a better, brighter 2013. As I said some years ago, there can be nowhere else to go but up.

A new page

I grew up in the halfway house of cultures. There was my mother, who was everything the typical Chinese woman was not, openly deriding and scoffing at every Chinese practice and belief in the market. And there was my father, too impatient to deal with the tedium of said Chinese practices and beliefs, but also subconsciously adhering to them when he thought nobody was watching.

But the one thing they both resolutely believe in is the Chinese symbolism behind numbers. Be it for their car license plates, phone numbers, and even home addresses, they cling to the numerical superstition that anything with a 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9 must be fortuitous, and anything with a 4 or 7 tempts the wrath of the gods.

So when my mother called to tell me that I would be celebrating my 28th birthday with them on the 11th, and I tried to politely decline any celebrations of any sort, she firmly stated, “You are turning 28. It’s a good number. We must celebrate that.”

I didn’t want to tell her that at 28, I still had nothing to my name, and therefore there was technically nothing to celebrate.

Over the last few months, and more so in the last few weeks leading up to this day, I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come since my quarter-century birthday (and when I say ‘far’, I don’t mean actual progress, because there has been so little that it’s not worth evaluating). And a result of this assessment is the extremely acute realization that, at 28, I’ve never been surer of what I want in my life – and it was most definitely not what I wanted at 25.

When I think back to what I wanted when I was 24 leading up to 25, I can’t help but feel that it led me to waste the next three years of my life waiting and hoping for something that would never happen. That subsequently led me to waste those three years wallowing in self-pity over my predicament of being stuck in a country I never wanted to come back to, and seething in self-loathing over putting so many things – and so many people – ahead of my own needs and plans.

And now here I am at 28, jaded, disappointed and faced with a decision that I will have to make before the year is over. It will be an incredibly difficult and heartbreaking decision that will leave me devoid of any emotion for a long time to come, but one that will ensure I don’t enter yet another new year with this resentment and bitterness hanging over my head.

Every year, on my birthday, I know I am not where I intended to be at that age, and the realization has never been clearer than it is now. I am most certainly not where I thought I would be at 28, but I will definitely have to start steering myself in that direction. I am more aware now than ever before that I will never be able to depend on anyone but myself for my own happiness and security, and the fact that I spent three and a half years doing just that is a testament to how I allowed my life to spiral completely out of control, and how I simply cannot allow it to continue any longer.

So welcome, 28. You were a long time coming.

Suspended animation

How has it come to this? How did three and a half years of waiting, hoping and keeping blind faith bring me to this point? How could I not have come to it sooner, when all the signs had already been there for so long? And, more importantly, how can I get past it now that I’m here?

It is largely my fault that things are the way they are now. I was too blind, too weak, and too much in denial to take the bull by the horns and drive it out to pasture. At the time, all I wanted was to keep things happy and worry-free, as a parent may want to keep their child happy by doing everything for them and giving them everything on a silver spoon.

And so I continued to give. And give. And give. Until I had to learn to go without it myself, to find ways to survive, hand to mouth, month after month, just to keep things ‘happy’. I thought that, given time, things would be sorted out one way or another, and I would be able to stop worrying. But, as my luck (and my life) always turns out, I put my faith — and my eggs — in the wrong basket.

So now here I am. Three and a half years later, paying the price for something that everyone thinks is not my fault but is, in fact, very much so. Neither emotional nor indifferent, I am left in suspended animation: not knowing how to move forward, but seeing absolutely no way of going back either. All I know is that I cannot, and will not, bring this dead weight with me into yet another new year, and be beaten down by disappointment after disappointment. And the worst thing is that at this stage, there is no outlet left for any emotion, because everything — and I mean everything — has been left just a little too late.

Too late. The worst phrase ever uttered. Too late to be sorry, too late to be loving, too late to be kind. Too late to try and fix the things that went so horribly wrong, too late to say everything we wanted to but were too afraid to say. Our only hope now is to get out of this with as little fuss and pain as possible, and find new ways to move on.

I have nothing left to give.